Living in Gratitude
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
My birthday comes very near the first of the year. So, when I “turn over a new year”, I am doing so both in the sense of the calendar year AND another year of my life. I don’t usually make New Year’s Resolutions, but I do generally, around the turn of the year and my birthday, reflect on the past year. Each time I do so, I am first of all reminded of just how good God has been; how abundantly He has blessed me and my family. I spend time in grateful praise, giving Him thanks for all this. No, I don’t just do this on a yearly basis! Almost daily, I reflect on His goodness to me, on His blessings, His Grace, His Love, and I give Him thanks for His favor on my life.
It never fails, though, that when I think of all of God’s goodness and His blessings, that I think of my failures; my unworthiness; my undeserving-ness of such Grace, Mercy and Love. I realize that I DO NOT deserve His Lovingkindness. I must confess, that sometimes I feel the need to “be better”, to work harder, and to try and become more worthy of such goodness. In fact, I think I have probably lived most of my life with just this attitude; that I HAVE to do something more than what I am doing; I HAVE to be a better person than I am, or God may not continue to be so generous to me. Some years ago, I began to realize, intellectually, that this is not the case. God does not love me because of what I do, not even because of who I am, but because of who He is. Since He does not change, He continues to love me regardless of who I am or what I do. I CANNOT do anything that will cause Him to love me more; and I cannot do anything that will cause Him to love me less. (borrowed from Phillip Yancey, What’s So Amazing About Grace) I say that “I began” to realize this “intellectually” because I believed it with my head, but I had a hard time putting this into practice, that is, believing it in my heart.
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Then I realized that I was NEVER going to be “good enough”. I was NEVER going to be able to deserve God’s Love, His Grace, His Mercy. It didn’t matter since He loves me UNCONDITIONALLY! In fact, this very year, as I was reflecting and praying, and thanking God for all His blessings in my life, it just came home to me; it was like someone turned on the light in my heart and in my head; it was like someone opened the windows on a new, Spring day after a long, cold winter. God doesn’t want me to live in regret of my failures. God doesn’t want me to live in the shackles of “trying” but never being good enough. God just wants me to live in gratitude; grateful for Him; for His favor on me because of His infinite, unconditional Love for me. As I live in this state of gratitude, it WILL affect my actions, of course. I will more often seek His face. I will more often follow His leadership. I will more often reflect the light of His Love in my life. This will be the natural (or should I say “supernatural”) result of my recognizing who He is and my living in gratitude to Him; it will not be because I have finally discovered how to be a deserving person, achieving any of this on my own.
that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.
Prayer: Father, help me to live each day in gratitude to you, to live in your unconditional love and to not depend on my own worthiness.
An engineer and student of the Word, Dwight Suiter has been a member at the River for 9 years. He and his wife Betty have been married for 48 years. They have 3 children and 10 grandchildren.